Boosting Workday User Adoption: 7 Effective Strategies That Deliver Results

Bringing Workday into your organisation can lead to some transformational benefits. But realising them is entirely dependent on the successful adoption of the platform. And that’s not always a walk in the park.

Any major shift within a company – whether it’s introducing new software or reimagining team structures – requires change management. Simply put, change management refers to the tactics and methods implemented to ensure change is executed seamlessly and with minimal business disruption.

It’s a battle fought on several fronts. There are psychological considerations as well as practical ones – from getting people on board with the very idea of something different to delivering the training required to get the most from new software.

In this article, we use our experience guiding companies through successful change management initiatives to share some top tips for getting the most from your Workday investment.

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Tip 1: Reduce complexity

Any fans of needlessly complicated things in the room?

Didn’t think so.

Complexity can be a huge barrier to the adoption of any new solution, and Workday is no exception. It’s not uncommon to see organisations with numerous customisations in their Workday deployment that make using the platform a daunting prospect for employees and managers alike.

If this sounds familiar, take a step back. It’s important to remember that people will only have so much patience when trying to use a new tool. In fact, the natural reaction when things get complicated is to head for the hills and revert to tried and tested methods. Which probably means welcoming back your old friend, Excel.

With that in mind, the first step to successful change management isn’t really about change management at all – it’s about optimising the configuration of your system and processes and keeping things simple.

In our experience, there are lots of reasons a Workday implementation can be overcomplicated, like regulatory measures or just a basic misunderstanding of how the product works. Or attempts to transpose the way things were done previously directly into the system.

The good news is that in nine out of ten cases, it’s easy for a trained eye to see where things can be simplified to make the management and use of your platform far easier – and people far more likely to embrace it.

Tip 2: Establish exactly where and how Workday could be deployed

When deploying Workday, you need to give some serious thought to who in your organisation you want to use it, and what for.

The amount of change it can introduce in people’s lives can vary dramatically, and not all change will be viewed as positive. Finding the right use cases is a must. If you ask people to use the platform for things that add complexity rather than reduce it, you’ll likely encounter some major problems with adoption.

So, step two is to thoroughly assess the roles in your organisation that could benefit from Workday – and then, more specifically, the individual tasks people in those roles can use the platform for.

The best place to start with this is to consider the reason you chose Workday in the first place. This approach will also ensure that you integrate the right data within the platform, which is one of the biggest reasons adoption fails.

Once you’ve identified these core processes, it’s important that you continue to search for other use cases and benefits for different user groups. After all, the greater the adoption the greater your ROI. Each use case will be different, but the most important element is to understand where initial resistance comes from, and remove those obstacles as quickly as possible.

Of course, there are some instances where people will have to use Workday whether they like it or not, because it’s what’s best for the organisation.

For example, a common complaint from senior managers is having to create job requisitions or initiate job change transactions. As this is something that’s only done once a year or so, it can take a long time to complete – all while taking the manager away from more value-adding activities.

In situations like this, your focus should be on making it as easy as possible to complete the task in Workday. It must be simpler than calling or emailing HR. Getting this right requires the right support structure with local points of contact and champions to help managers use the system.

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Tip 3: Demonstrate the benefits to encourage adoption

As a general rule, people are resistant to change. And asking people to change the way they work is notoriously difficult.

This will be especially true of certain demographics in your workforce – namely those that have been in their position a long time and are used to a particular way of doing things. After all, we all get attached to the things we’re familiar with. Even if those things are spreadsheets.

An even bigger problem arises when people feel the tools you’re giving them are adding to their workload. So, it’s vital to make the benefits of Workday clear – both personal and organisational – to every single person who will use it.

One way of doing this is to reframe the idea of having more things to do. Workday should be seen as enabler rather than a burden – something that provides direct access to the tools people need to get things done without having to ask anyone for help.

Essentially, Workday should never feel like it’s adding more work to already full plates. It should only ever help people to work smarter and more efficiently. But this has to be communicated effectively. Language around the solution should be positive, it should focus on the benefits of the platform and, if possible, those benefits should be shown not told.

For example, in the past we’ve encouraged companies to share short videos of senior team members using Workday to accomplish simple tasks on their mobile devices. This is a quick and easy way of showing a wide audience the efficiency it can bring to otherwise complicated processes.

Tip 4: Identify your early adopters and Workday advocates

Another important element of driving adoption is finding the people who can help accelerate uptake – those most likely to embrace change.

Digital natives, for instance, are generally more eager to adopt new technologies than Gen X. So start with those easy wins, and have them share their success stories far and wide to encourage others.

One technique we’ve seen implemented successfully is to identify key influencers within the organisation; the people your workforce listens to and takes its lead from. These may not automatically be the people in charge – although it’s important to note that all change should be led from the top, and your leaders should be aware whose voices carry the furthest in your organisation. Regardless, it’s important to cast a wide net with your stakeholder mapping to identify where advocacy and influence really come from.

Once you’ve identified these agents of change, and made Workday a central part of their role, they can become evangelists for the platform.

In the past, we’ve helped these individuals make Workday a part of their career path. And we’ve developed internal Centres of Excellence, where those with an appetite for the platform can continue to develop and refine its use for the good of the organisation.

The main point here is that if you choose people of influence who are already eager to adopt the solution, and provide them with the support needed to thrive, they will inevitably bring others along for the ride with them.

Not only will your advocates be more convincing to their peers than messages passed down from management, but they can also help with some essential local and cultural knowledge, understanding the best way to share ideas with the wider workforce to encourage adoption.

For example, in Japan we used Manga cartoons to engage employees to complete their day-one tasks following the launch of a new feature. Every company culture is different, and those with boots on the ground will have a better sense of it than anyone.

Tip 5: Remove pain points with timely, flexible training

Providing the right training is perhaps the most important aspect of removing barriers to adoption.

Often, we see training that only covers the “happy path” – how things should work when all goes according plan. But what happens when things go wrong? Because if there’s ever a certainty in life, it’s that something, at some point, will go wrong.

If people have to resort to calling support or finding answers from others in the organisation when this happens, you’ll quickly find the limits of their patience. Which is why robust and flexible guidance is imperative.

Training must be tailored to specific roles and activities, and delivered in easy-to-digest modules that use human language and not technical terms to communicate ideas. And, vitally, it must be accessible on demand, so people can resolve problems and learn new skills quickly.

It’s also important to remember that people learn in vastly different ways, so be sure to use a combination of e-learning, quick reference guides, videos, and simulations to make it as easy as possible for people to absorb information in the way they feel most comfortable.

Tip 6: Focus on continuous improvement

When it comes to Workday, change management isn’t a once-and-done activity. In part because the platform itself is improved and updated so regularly.

Keeping up with the changes can feel like the infamous task of painting the Forth Bridge: Once you’re done, it’s time to start over. But the rewards are worth the effort. So, it’s important that training and optimisation are continuous activities to prevent people from falling behind and getting lost in new features.

It’s also imperative that you conduct regular housekeeping activities. If data isn’t integrated with Workday, or if it’s done so incorrectly, the results the platform delivers will be inaccurate. And if the results are inaccurate, then you won’t achieve the business outcomes you were looking for.  

To avoid this, you need regular checks and balances in place to make sure Workday is being used correctly and people are getting the results they expect – and, of course, that your organisation is getting the most value from its investment.

In addition, you must have a living and breathing governance structure, with clear ownership of processes, the system, data, and knowledge management. This is key to creating a culture of continuous improvement.

Think about rewarding ideas and proactivity in this area. A little acknowledgement can go a long way in building adoption, advocacy, and ownership.

Tip 7: Measure success

Of course, there’s no point in continually moving forward if you’re not clear on the impact your actions are having. The final step of your change management program is to regularly measure the success you’ve achieved and identify areas for improvement.

Success will look different for everyone, so it’s best to start by reminding yourself why you adopted Workday to begin with. What efficiencies were you trying to achieve? Are your KPIs being met? And most of all, are your people happy?

The importance of this last point can’t be overstated. Really listen to the people in your organisation who use Workday (they almost always have plenty to say). Find out what their pain points are and make a visible effort to address them. You may even want to create a group for your power users to share optimisation ideas.

If your people feel like you’re working alongside them to make their lives easier, they’re far more likely to get on board.

Want to learn more?

As a Workday partner, we provide optimisation services to organisations of all sizes, delivering the guidance, training, and support to help you get the most from your investment.

A big part of our service offering is change management. In fact, we recently helped one company achieve a 97% Workday adoption rate within a week of go-live.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help your organisation navigate change, get in touch.

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